White Coat Underground

Poking the hornets’ nest

I played hooky from the office this morning. My hours have really been weighing down on me, and with my recent back injury, I really wanted a break.

Then my wife begged me to take our daughter to school. And stop at the store. And find the shopping list in her car. I was unhappy. I made her cry.

You see, today is my father-in-law’s birthday. He was born 70-odd years ago today. He died less than three months ago. It’s not going to be an easy day. I apologized and worked on getting my daughter ready.

My daughter has, like most children, traits from both of her parents. From her mother she has a distaste for mornings. When I went to wake her she actually gave me a groggy “talk to the hand” gesture. Everything was a struggle this morning—teeth, hands, asthma medicine, clothes, and finally, coat. Our house is under construction from a horrible ice dam incident, and the coat closet is tough to get to. This answer did not satisfy my daughter’s desire to wear a different coat, one thing led to another, and she had lost her TV privileges and shut herself in her room. It was five-to-nine, and I had lost through winning. My wife, trying to claw her way back to sleep, strongly suggested that I learn to de-escalate more effectively, and gave me some specific suggestions. A few minutes later, we were in the car and off to school.

Four-year olds like their routines, and I wandered into the trap of trying to fit a small but willful human into mine. My roll-out-of-bed jump-in-the-shower run-out-the-door routine didn’t match hers, and the predictable happened. Hopefully I’ve learned two good lessons—be nice to my wife, and don’t push it with the kid.



  1. #1 bob koepp
    March 19, 2009

    Pal – I sincerely hope that your irritability is just your bad back talking. If my tenacious, disputatious nature (of which you’ve seen plenty in the past couple days…) has contributed even an iota to this sad tale, please extend my apologies to the wife and daughter. In fact, please do something unexpected, and nice, for each of them.

  2. #2 PalMD
    March 19, 2009


    : )

  3. #3 D. C. Sessions
    March 19, 2009

    You know, I think I’m finally learning to deal properly with my kids and their so-not-morning-people natures. Of course, it helps that they’re all out of the house and mostly in different time zones.

    I don’t really recommend the solution to their mother’s even more extreme not-in-the-morning-hood, but it worked for me. The delightful lady I now see in the morning is at least as much an early riser as I am.

  4. #4 EricJuve
    March 19, 2009

    Its so easy for a parent to fall into this trap. One of the worst evenings I had with my daughter was precipitated by me wanting to send her to bed when she was obviously not tired, then having her resist. I let it become a contest of wills, and we both lost. I finally figured out that all I had to to was to sit her down and let her go to sleep on her own, no contest, no loss. Fortunately I recently told her about this incident and she has no memory of it. I think I will always feel guilty.

  5. #5 Courtney Ostaff
    March 19, 2009

    One of the hardest lessons to learn with my adopted teenager was that my pride was not important. Sometimes it’s just better to accept and let it go. I used to be able to get anywhere in 20 minutes. Now, with my 15 month old, I assume that it takes 60 minutes….and I’m still often late. C’est la vie.

  6. #6 MartinB
    March 20, 2009

    I know, advice from other parents is always bothersome, but I still won’t resist.

    I would not use revoking TV privileges as form of punishment, unless for a TV related issue. Otherwise, you only reinforce the message that watching TV is something special and rewarding – and kids tend to watch too much TV anyway…

    Apart from that, I think that situations where “one thing leads to another” are sometimes inevitable, altheough unpleasant – unless they are frequent, I would not worry too much, children are smart enough to understand that sometimes parents have a bad day.

  7. #7 Denice Walter
    March 20, 2009

    From seeing several photos of YoungMsPal,I seem to get the impression that she *may* have a budding fashion sense (the embroidered jeans got me thinking; this photo clinched it)which (at least) I take as being smart in more than one way.

  8. #8 PalMD
    March 20, 2009

    Well, she sure as hell doesn’t get it from me…

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